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Writing The Aspiring Writer's Guide

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Feyfolken

   
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For those wanting to expand on their writing skills in a journalistic sense, this thread will hopefully help you on that journey. The idea behind any piece of writing isn't some far-off philosophical point (usually). What most writing tries to accomplish is either stating an idea or raising a question. The very best works of writing will often do both. So in this amateur guide, I can hopefully share something to help formulate essays, articles, novellas, or any other kind of writing.

Disclaimer: I possess no comprehensive knowledge of writing nor do I have any extensive background in journalism, be it occupational or academic. What I've learned and what I say in this thread is what I've used and learned over time in order to be satisfied with my work and make others happy to have read it. Take what I say with a grain of salt as I am no expert or professional when it comes to writing or journalism.

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With a decent understanding of the basis of writing, you'll be better off than most when they begin writing. Schooling in English generally doesn't focus on what constitutes a good piece of writing, such as what logic entails and how to argue. Before that can be explored, the very basics need to be mastered. This includes the ability to simply write well to the point where your writing contains little to no errors. That means that your punctuation cannot contain major mistakes, every word must be spelled correctly and each word used must have its own sensible place within the sentence and the context of the topic. Casp has created an in-depth guide on common grammatical mistakes that people are prone to making, so check out that thread if you think you could use a refresher on what some of those errors are.

As for how to actually write any piece, you will need a process. That process will depend from person to person as everyone thinks differently and has their own ways to come up with solutions. My process for writing an article is as follows:
  1. I will find a newly posted piece of information about something that interests me or something that I am at least relatively familiar with. This is important, because your best work will come from something that you feel strongly about or have some knowledge on.
  2. After finding said topic to write on, I'll invest myself into the information that's new and think of ways to write about those details that would interest me. This is also important, because it is more difficult to infer what will be interesting to others. As I said before, people think differently so the best way to convey information in an interesting way is to think objectively about how you could word the news to make it interesting to you.
  3. I always start with an introduction which should include enough information, in layman's terms, so that anyone could read the topic and know what is being talked about. You can talk about a game or product's release information if it's been out for awhile, you can talk about its developers or any previous work, and you can talk about the premise of the game or product and what it's all about. In less common instances, you can talk about a popular game or product's commercial success, if its won any awards or topped any charts, and things of that nature as those facts can be interesting to know.
  4. The introduction should always end by talking about the point of the article - it's your thesis statement. Structuring of essays and journalistic articles should be similar, since they are both making a point, conveying information, and they both need to keep readers interested. The better you are at making an argumentative case, the better your writing will be. Writing in the professional world is all about making a point, even when it comes to writing something like a work of fiction.
  5. The paragraphs following the introduction should tell the reader about what is new or what the point of your article is. Don't beat around the bush when it comes to explaining what is new. Oftentimes, you'll find that less is more. Visual examples can also be of use here.
  6. On the other hand, don't skimp out readers when it comes to news just for the sake of being concise. While it is good to summarize news rather than overdo it when you're explaining details, it's never good to leave out important information about an update, announcement, trailer, or anything like that. Lay out all of the information you can provide to readers and then figure out how to instill every bit of information in a meaningful way.
  7. Conclude by wrapping everything up or by offering an open-ended bit that will make readers want to discuss what they've just seen. Leave room for them to formulate their own thoughts and opinions and don't involve your own perspective unless it's called for, such as in a review or an opinionated piece.
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The most beneficial advice I can give to anyone looking to write is that feedback is essential for improvement! Read your own work or have someone read it for you; post it in this section and have others peer review it. Go do something around your house for 10-30 minutes and then come back to take another look at what you've written. You might not find any glaring mistakes, but you might find something that could be worded better or said in a different way to make it clearer for readers.

The most common feedback I've given anyone who's submitted content to the homepage is that it's lacking in what I call flow; meaning it doesn't have natural sentence structuring and it's hard to get from one thought to another. One thing that separates good and bad writing is how easy it is to follow and understand. If an article can't keep someone interested enough to read, or the structuring is so off that it becomes laborious to read, then chances are those readers aren't going to keep reading. That is why it is imperative to read your own work. Say the whole thing aloud and emphasize breaks, commas, and periods to note if it's easy to read and in turn, easy to understand.

So maybe you've nailed it down to a process and you always make sure to get feedback on your work, but something's not clicking. There's always something wrong but you can't make out what it is exactly. Unfortunately, there's no single solution to this issue. Sometimes, it takes longer to sink in for people, even if they have an interest in writing. One good way to build up on this is to look at examples of writing in journalism that just didn't work out. Check out some work from educational websites, such as a college website that has posted something relating to bad examples of writing. There, you can find staple examples of where a certain sentence went wrong and how to improve that.

Aspiring writers start out with the entire notion of writing being new to them, so mistakes are commonplace and that's okay. With more experience, you'll try new things and find out what works and what doesn't work. Not everything you try will work and that's okay, too, but it's important to understand why they don't work and how you can improve.
 
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The information below can be considered an example for basic reviews and any opinionated piece in general. Refer to spoilers for explanations.

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Dragon's Dogma is as great a game as it is disappointing¹. While widely considered to be a flawed masterpiece, there's a surprising amount to take away from it despite its numerous problems. Most will concede that the gameplay is some of the must fun and innovative in an action RPG in a long time, however, there are other elements of Dragon's Dogma that can and should be highlighted because of what it means to the genre and, of course, what it means to those who can see the journey through. And while Dragon's Dogma lets down in some ways, it excels so highly in what it does manage to do well that it makes it my favorite gaming experience of all time².

1. This is the hook. You want it to either be bold and interesting, or relatable. It has to grab the reader's attention because the first few sentences are obviously your first impression but they're also your only chance to secure the reader's interest. Mine is a basic idea that states a point, not unlike my main thesis/argument, but can obviously have more added on to it.

2. This is your thesis. What is the point? What are you selling? Why should anyone reading care? They need to take away something of value from your thesis. If you can sell it right, they'll keep reading. They don't have to agree, but if you can get them to read your piece, you have (probably) done something right.

The game opens with me being welcomed to Cassardis, a small fishing village and my home. The buildings are simple and composed of clay and rock, but it's clear my character is of high esteem and a welcome face around the village. My life appears to be going well, until a dragon as large as the village descends upon it in a tempest, destroying buildings and torching villagers to a crisp. While the local guards drop their weapons and flee, the hero of the story must obviously take up arms to slay this beast. In the attempt, the dragon acknowledges me as the only one brave enough to stand and fight. It casts an incantation on me and proceeds to, using impressive dragon magic, remove my heart from my body. Arisen, he calls me, before the screen fades to black³.

3. This gives the reader some valuable context into the game itself. In a way, I am summarizing the introduction, but almost from the perspective of the game itself. An introduction to a game has the same obligation to entice players that writers have to entice readers. It's also a segue into how I will acknowledge its few faults before I get into its strengths.

Where the game fails to impress is in its exposition⁴. While it does a good job at enticing me through this mystical dragon and what being an Arisen means, that entire plot point is largely dropped off until much later. The game lets me off the hook, but not in a good way. Suddenly, I'm the only one curious about what this whole Arisen thing means and no one else seems to be taking the threat of the dragon as seriously as they probably should be. The side quests largely deal with nefarious cultist groups and the apathetic Duke Edmun Dragonsbane, who appears to be hiding a grave secret. The ultimate disappointment of Dragon's Dogma is that it takes too long to get to the good part. The ending explores godhood and the futility of life in such a way that's unexpected, but also made me feel as if the dull moments of the game were all planned out for this moment. If the game had done a better job in the early and middle parts of exploring these ideas, this story had the potential to be one of the best told in gaming.

4. Again, make your points clear. I first have to establish that Dragon's Dogma has faults so I can focus on its strengths. The game takes too long to build up into a coherent and enjoyable story, but when it does, it blows most away. With its shortcomings out of the way, we can discuss some other components of the game that prospective buyers would care about.

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Dragon's Dogma has shining moments throughout all the seemingly inconsequential tasks the Duke and his men send players on. The moments after I become the errand girl for the Duke are actually some of the most fun I've had in a video game. Though it consists of a lot of running across the countryside initially, a battle against hundreds of goblins and a hunt for a griffin do end up making it all worthwhile. Every single enemy encountered in the open world and in these seemingly trivial tasks did much to make me forget why I bothered to set out in the first place - it's just fun to do so. Exploration is generally rewarded with exciting battles and decent loot. Controls are simple and intuitive and overall, the gameplay is centered around timing and planning of actions.

To switch up how all of these enemies can be dealt with, the game offers nine "vocations". These vocations serve as classes and roles typical to RPG games, and they can all be used by the player or applied to the player's companion, the Pawn. The three base vocations are something of a triumvirate between strength, cunning, and magic. Fighters are the typical sword and shield wielders, while Striders can be seen using daggers and a short bow, and Mages wield some pretty potent spells. They can then specialize in that tree and gain even more devastating abilities in their respective branch, or combine vocations to become hybrids between the two chosen. My personal favorite was the Magick Archer, giving access to some supportive Mage abilities with the capabilities that Strider has to climb onto enemies and put out considerable damage⁵. Beyond that, the game considers elemental weaknesses and looks overall at how certain attacks should affect enemies on certain body parts and during certain abilities.

5. These paragraphs are pretty simple. They just explain how the game actually plays, painting a vague picture of what options players have to go about the game. You can insert your preferences in there, but the bottom line is to present what the game offers. This is a sales pitch, but you're also informing in a review. These paragraphs and the following will just be a collection of strengths noted while playing the game.

While there's no question the game offers dozens of ways to go about playing it, it wouldn't be much without some charming visuals. I would argue the graphics hold up years later with a certain nostalgic allure, but for their time, they were considered impressive or at least good enough. Character customization surprisingly sticks out the most when talking about graphics. While none of the characters in the game look realistic, what the game allows players to customize for their character is comprehensive. From age to height and individual body part proportions, it's fairly easy to get the exact desired look.

Strongly complimenting the visuals are a similarly nostalgic soundtrack. It's a score that, seven years later, I still listen to because many of these tracks were so memorable and iconic. Every track manages to fit perfectly within the moment it plays and they are enjoyable to listen to with or without the game itself like many other great video game soundtracks. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen saw even more beautiful tracks added to the game, the title theme "Coils of Light" being the most popular by far, as well as my personal favorite.

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It's difficult to get into why Dragon's Dogma can be my undisputed favorite game without spoiling the later parts of the story. It differentiates itself from all other games in the genre largely through its Shadow of the Colossus style grappling and climbing of bosses. The point that mattered the most to me was how it handled decisions. The game constantly emphasizes how the decisions of one can shape the world, and the Arisen's choices are no different. It ultimately tackles the idea of godhood and what makes people alive, calling into question the cyclical nature of life and what it would even mean to govern all of it. It does build up to this point so the ending is not a complete shock, although there are plenty of curious surprises in store for those who paid attention.

Though it has been shown that game director Hideaki Itsuno had a much grander plan for Dragon's Dogma, certain cuts had to be made which can unfortunately be felt throughout the hollow story leading up to the game's amazing ending. For all of its weaknesses, the revised Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen addressed everything from endgame progression and content to a dull story, raising fan reception across the board. Despite this, the base game's story still greatly suffers due to necessary cuts, but for all the reasons I listed here, this game still proves to be my most enjoyed and most memorable experience in gaming.

Dragon's Dogma is flawed and fails to deliver on many points, but it also explored things I had only ever tried to think about in a meaningful and symbolic way that really did change my perception on certain things in life. To get that out of a video game is not something that I find happens often and so I've always cherished the game for the ideas it explored and all the exciting moments I've felt while playing it. As it debuts on the Nintendo Switch in April, it's definitely something to consider⁶.

6. Now that the reader has seen all my critiques and praises, it's a good time to restate my original argument. Going back through, I've listed examples and even preferences/favorites, and my structuring looks to be consistent and the progression between ideas makes sense more or less. I've ended this on a note that the reader should definitely consider this game and given my testimony, it's something the reader might actually end up doing. I said the game was flawed and I showed how, and my main point was that despite its flaws, it still managed to become my favorite game. While that statement can be hard to express, I personally feel that I've done an adequate job detailing why I believe that statement and what it might mean to readers.
 
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You should give an example of good flow :tongue:.
 
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Feyfolken

   
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You should give an example of good flow :tongue:.
I will have to find some bad examples. I tried to describe it pretty well but I'll admit that it's hard to grasp without seeing a definitive example of what I'm talking about. If I find any bad examples or am able to think of some, I'll edit it in. I also have a post reserved for writing editorials and reviews which I'll be posting up soon.
 
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Aydind

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I will have to find some bad examples. I tried to describe it pretty well but I'll admit that it's hard to grasp without seeing a definitive example of what I'm talking about. If I find any bad examples or am able to think of some, I'll edit it in. I also have a post reserved for writing editorials and reviews which I'll be posting up soon.
If you need examples of bad flow, link him to my articles page :roflmao:. Seriously though, nice thread.
 
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Not to **** post, but this thread is really nice. Just reading it made me feel relaxed. (I know I'm weird)
 
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Jacob Frye

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I enjoyed reading this.
 
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I'm not too sure if this should go in here, but 3.8 paragraphs are good to use as well in persuasive writing.
 
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smelly02

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Great post, wish we can link this to people who want to publish their 1st article.
 
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xJet Gaming

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to be honest this was a lot to read but this is really going to help me... Thanks!
 
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Surprised I haven't seen this sooner.
 
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tsppolarbear

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The knowledge you are given is shared by your own willing decision to embark on a journey to inspire others. Thank you very nice. :smile::wink:
 
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